In 1962, President John F. Kennedy established the week in which May 15 falls at National Police Week throughout the United States. A half-century later, the week is still used to mark the ultimate sacrifice law enforcement officers too often pay in the line of duty. At the May 14 meeting of the Wright County Board, the commissioners named May 12-18 as Law Enforcement Officers Week in Wright County.
Sheriff Joe Hagerty said that officer killings are rare, but happen throughout the country. Last November, Cold Spring police officer Tom Decker was shot and killed and it hit hard among those in his office, who had to wonder if it could have been one of them.
“About the only good thing that comes out of a situation like that is that it snaps you back to attention that it could happen to you or one of your fellow officers,” Hagerty said. “We get paid to head toward dangerous situations when most instincts tell you to go the other direction. That’s what we do and, at times, it can mean making the ultimate sacrifice.”
Seven law enforcement officers in Wright County have given their lives in the line of duty – Constable Charles Washburn (gunfire, 1884), Sheriff John Nugent (gunfire, 1922), Town Marshal Rudolph Maurer (gunfire, 1922), Sheriff Paul Kritzek (auto accident, 1951), Sheriff James Kreitlow (heart attack, 1963), Chief George Ryti of the Annandale Police Department (auto accident, 1977) and Deputy Roger Wrobbel (heart attack, 1980). Their names are etched in the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C.
Hagerty said he’s grateful that there hasn’t been a death of a Wright County law enforcement officer in more than 30 years and added that the week raises awareness to the dangers of law enforcement – both for the general public and the officers themselves.
“This is a great job to have, but you come into it knowing there are risks involved,” Hagerty said. “You always hope that a tragedy won’t happen here, but there is always that risk and events like National Police Week serve as a reminder that it can happen and that we need to be careful.”
In other items on the May 14 agenda, the board:
• By a 4-1 vote, gave its approval to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources proposal to purchase 34 acres of land to add to the St. Michael Meadows State Wildlife Management Area. Before giving its approval, the board added language to the agreement that would provide 55 feet of road easement for future road construction projects on the road. Commissioner Christine Husom voted against approval, citing that the land would come off the county’s tax rolls. The area is low-lying land that Commissioner Mike Potter said isn’t ideally suited for development.
• Presented awards from the Wright County Sheriff’s Office for citizen and officer awards. Five citizens – Alfred Nelson, Todd Johnson, Kerry Blomberg, Lori Blomberg and Daryl Gilles – were presented citizen awards for their assistance to an auto accident victim whose car was submerged in water. The five all came to the assistance of the driver and removed her from her vehicle as they waited for emergency personnel to arrive. Deputy Bernie Williams was given a letter of recognition after he caught a fire victim in Otsego who fell from a ladder trying to climb down from his roof after attempting to put out a chimney fire. In addition, three Minnesota Police Reserve Officers Association awards were given out – Lieutenant Keith Schuft was given a lifetime service award, Sergeant Steve Kraemer was given the Reserve Police Officer of the Year Award and Captain Daryl Tindle was presented the reserve police leadership award.
• Laid over for one week bids received for the county 9-11 emergency system upgrade package. The bids were opened and will be reviewed with a recommendation being presented at the May 21 meeting.
• Approved a construction agreement for the Beebe Lake Trail project. The project includes $657,500 in federal funds, but $164,000 of that funding won’t be available until after Oct. 1. The cities of St. Michael and Hanover will fund the local share of the trail project.
• Acknowledged receipt of a radar detection unit for the sheriff’s department from the state’s Toward Zero Death Traffic Safety Program.
• Granted permission for Woodland Township to replace a culvert along County Ditch 31 under a township road that is in need of replacement. The replacement is expected to take place in June.
• By a 4-1 vote, tabled discussion of bid specifications for proposed ditch repairs on County Ditch 10. Commissioner Charlie Borrell asked several questions and even had a pair of residents along the ditch address the board with concerns. After about 15 minutes of questioning without concrete answers being given to concerns such as whether the project can be bid in pieces if specific landowners don’t want equipment encroaching on their property to do the repairs, Commissioner Mark Daleiden asked the item be tabled. The intent was to get the answers to the numerous questions Borrell raised. Borrell voted against tabling the matter.
• Approved reducing the number of Wednesday committee dates from two to one in the summer. The dates approved as committee days were June 19, July 17 and Aug. 21.
• Announced the cancellation of the July 30 board meeting due to five Tuesdays in the month.
Freelancer John Holler covers government and the Wright County Board of Commissioners.